Here goes:

Hungarian scholar Balint Magyar offers a theory that explains why the US is holding out against the same tactics that caused other countries to collapse into autocracy. His theory also explains why comparisons across nations don’t always work.

2/ While writing about post-communists mafia states, he talked about the “big bang” theory: He says that the “conditions preceding the democratic big bang have a decisive role in the formation of the system.”
3/ Here’s how I understand the theory (to use Russia as an example). At the time of the Russian Big Bang (early 1990s, when a Democracy struggled to be born) the Communist Party had a monopoly on power and resources.
4/ All industries were centralized and in the hands of the government.

As Masha Gessen explains in The Future is History, the citizens had come out of decades of totalitarianism. Those are the conditions that preceded Russia's democratic Big Bang.
5/ At the time of the American Big Bang, we lived in a hierarchy with white men at the top. We had operating democratic institutions (local governments, courts that applied common law, juries) but the institutions protected the freedom of white men only.

So that’s our default.
6/ When anti-democratic forces in the United States try to undo democracy, what they’re trying to take us back to is the time when democratic institutions protected the interests of white men.

The GOP is also trying to create a Russian-style mafia state.
7/ @HC_Richardson explains that we have actually had 2 oligarchies in our past. The first was the Plantation System, when a few white men controlled all the wealth. The second happened during the age of Business Tycoons.
8/ These kinds of oligarchies were not that different from the conditions at the time of our big bang.

But we also had working democratic institutions with a stable history at the start of the nation.
9/ Precisely. I'd say "harder to break."

Democratic institutions like independent courts are hardwired into people like Chief Justice Roberts, who is very far to the right but can't go so far as to break the institutions that we had from the start.

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More from @Teri_Kanefield

5 Mar
Like Gessen, I admire Magyar's work. I also agree this is Trump's strategy.

But comparisons to Hungary fail because of systemic differences. What works there doesn't necessarily work here.

Lots of alarm before the 2020 election came from saying the US follow Hungary.
Before the 2020 election, scholars of the kind of fascism taking root in that part of Europe compared what the Republican Party was doing to what Orban did in Hungary.

The conclusion from the comparison in Oct. 2020 was that Trump would steal the election.
I do think, though, that we can learn a lot about the modern Republican Party from studying Magyar's work.

Just don't conclude that the US will follow Hungary's course.

Magyar also talks about the "big bang" theory of Democracy. (If you ask, I'll explain) . . .
Read 4 tweets
4 Mar
Timothy Snyder (@TimothyDSnyder) calls it sadopopulism and explains the formula:

🔹Identify an "enemy" (homeless migrants, Democrats, etc.)
🔹Enact policies that create pain
🔹Blame the pain on the "enemies"
🔹Present yourself as the strongmen who can fight the "enemies."
You can't be a white grievance party if your constituents are not grieving.

Make them suffer, then blame people who are not white.
People misunderstood this comment, so I'll add that this comes from Timothy Snyder, who explained one difference between 20th-century fascists and 21st-century fascists.

20th-century fascists did not deliberately hurt their own constituents. They did not enact laws. . .
Read 5 tweets
27 Feb
If you have multiple parties in a constitutional democracy with a president, the president can come to power with 33% of the vote— or less if the vote is split multiple ways.

Do you really want that?

A majority requires a big tent, which means compromising.
The drafters of our Constitution deliberately avoided a parliamentary system.
If one party jumps on the crazy train, that's when you need all other people to come together to outnumber the crazy party.

10 parties mean each person gets to find the party that fully embraces that person's views (Purity!)

But then the crazy party seizes power.
Read 6 tweets
27 Feb
Several people recently have used the phrase "broken system."

I'm curious about the thinking behind this term. It seems to me as flawed as MAGA.

Broken implies that it was once functional and working, now then it broke.

Two questions . . .
(1) Was it ever not broken?
(2) If so, when did it break?
In 1870, women couldn't vote.

In many states, they couldn't own property.

It was perfectly legal to have all-white juries, and they often were all white.

There were no worker protections or consumer protections.

Read 20 tweets
27 Feb
All we are seeing so far are pretrial motions for release pending a trial. A judge decides (no jury).

The judge isn't considering a defense to the actual crime or deciding whether a person is guilty.

There are particular factors a judge considers. . .

Incarcerating someone after arrest but before a trial is somewhat problematic because of that whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing.

If a person is nonviolent and not a flight risk, the person shouldn't be imprisoned without a trial.

One consideration is the probability that the defendant will be convicted and face jail time because otherwise, you run the risk of ruining an innocent person's life.

(A jailed person probably loses his or her job. What if there are kids to support, etc.)

Read 4 tweets
26 Feb
I remember when Roger Stone was greeted with a standing ovation after Mueller indicted him.

We shouldn't be surprised that the Republican Party will cheer Trump, despite the role he played in the insurrection.

The goal of the GOP is to dismantle the federal government and return to that time (before 1920; for others, before 1860) when white men could basically do what they wanted.

On the frontier, they could grab land!
Before modern rape laws, they could grab women!

Before the alphabet-soup regulatory agencies (the "deep state") they could cheat!
🔹They could fix prices and manipulate markets!
🔹They could sell rotten goods and it was the buyer's fault for not inspecting better!
🔹They could pollute rivers!

🎶Those were the days🎶

3/ Image
Read 4 tweets

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